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I have a rescue boxer/catahoula. She's 3 years old. She was 6 months when I got her. She's always been nervous. When she was a puppy she loved all dogs and was very playful. She was at a dog park everyday--rain, shine, and snow. When she turned about 2 she started having a hard time in the park. She was very rough and her excitement would escalate quickly. She was very vocal--growling and snarling and snapping. I stopped bringing her to the park for about a year because of this. Recently, I started bringing her back to the park and I can't understand her behavior. I live in the western suburbs of PA and there is a large park with many trials in which dogs are permitted to be off-leash. Although I keep my dog on a leash, she enjoys meeting the dogs that come up to her off leash. She likes smelling them and she generally allows them to smell her with no problems. If they start jumping shell growl and snap and tuck her tail and try to get away. This doesn't bother because most dogs on the trials dont jump on her. However, when I bring her to enclosed dog parks the problems intensify. She walks in fine, smells all the other dogs, and allows them to smell her. Then she'll generally walk around the perimeter of the park smelling everything. Today, for example, she was fine walking in and happy to see all the dogs and then one male dog (about her size) humped her. She snarled and snapped and pinned the dog down and then I yelled at her and she came over with her tail tucked. Fast forward 10 min and a big pit came over and was in 100% play-mode. Butt up, front paws down, bouncing around. My dog also got into very similar play-mode. They played for about 5 seconds and out of no where my dog starts growing and snapping and pinned the other dog down and continued snarling. She was on a leash and I pulled her off and she trotted around the park smelling and that same dog kept coming up to her and my dog would smell the dog and then walk away.

It seems like my dog likes other dogs (or at the very least, doesn't dislike other dogs) but isnt able to play. Is it possible that she just plays extremely roughly and I shouldn't be bothered by the sounds and roughness or is there some underlying issue that I'm not recognizing?
 

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can you understand your correcting her for defending herself, giving a correction to another dog behaving badly to her, leaves her helpless (anxiety, nervous) starting to get defensive about being approached. it becomes a snow ball getting bigger and bigger type of thing. the anticipation reaction before anything happens.. In order to avoid not being able to defend or correct another dog without getting punishment.
 

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can you understand your correcting her for defending herself, giving a correction to another dog behaving badly to her, leaves her helpless (anxiety, nervous) starting to get defensive about being approached. it becomes a snow ball getting bigger and bigger type of thing. the anticipation reaction before anything happens.. In order to avoid not being able to defend or correct another dog without getting punishment.
So do you suggest that I just let her "be a dog" and defend herself? My fear is that I don't want it to progress. I typically correct her when I see her getting nervous as a way to (1) calm her down, and (2) convey to her that there's nothing to worry about. This approach, however, doesn't work when she's already playing with another dog.
 

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Don't correct her. Call her away with much praise as she comes to you and go home. When there's an emotional upset it takes hours to days for the hormones to leave the bloodstream.

Better if you are determined to work through this would be to note how long it takes before she gets overwhelmed and what sort of dog is too much for her and go home before that happens. Dogs get tired. Playing with strange dogs is intense and tiring. Be sure to make leaving a happy moment, maybe have a special treat waiting in the car or something.
 

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^^^^ for Kathy.... calling her out of play or a bad situation back to (safety) you being her safety. Dogs have social rules, they don't have to be taught, Their confidence around other dogs is inherit and open expectation that other dogs follow the rules too. correcting another to to the level that is needed for an offense to themselves is also gaining confidence around other dogs that they don't have to take wrongful abuse from other dogs... is not the same as stalking a dog down to have a fight with them not even in the same category. My 50lb GSD can take on a 100 lb puppy like a rabid chipmunk with such turn around physical and verbal force to send the puppy backwards off balanced on his butt if not run him completely over. She tried the head down ignore, tried the change of direction.. NO EFFECT for the pup to still want to engage with her, want to play, At 13 she not interested in the puppy crap, she not interested in being a playmate to this pup. GSD totally goes off on him gets her point across with no harm (mark, blood or gore) and now at 147lbs still a pup he doesn't bother her, and if he gets too close to her, a simple lip tightening is all that is needed for the pup to go on. Nothing wrong with a dog setting interaction and space boundaries and a level of respect for themselves to other dogs..

Nothing wrong with you seeing your dog has a mis behaving dog bothering her and step in call her back to help her out of the situation Your the safety.. and no dog should have to put up being abused by another dog. or being taught from experience they are helpless to defend themselves because they are put by their owner and left to fend for themselves but can't make their own decisions without correction and punishments for setting boundaries of how they want other dogs to treat them. You end up with a reactive nervous dog that just wants at the sight of another dog .. for them to go away.

Then there is maturity from puppy hood to adult hood... around 7 months .. 1.5 years old... 2 years old.. and 3 years old. they changing, seeing the world differently, coming into their breed traits... I have suspicious breeds towards humans more intolerant towards humans and other dogs, then other breeds. all socialized as puppies, but it doesn't stop them from becoming who they will be as an adult in their own breed in how they see the world. and what is natural in how they respond to it. All things to consider for how you feel about what you are seeing, and how you are, will handling this situation and if the dog parks are a right fit for you and for the dog you have.

some in my breed would have a blast as a puppy and young dog in a group of dogs and then not anymore as adults,, some of them I hear are intolerant at 3 months...
 

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I agree with Patricia. However, I'm not clear if your dog [the OP] is snarking and correcting the dog, or if the dogs are starting to fight.

When your dog pins another dog, does she start biting and shaking the other dog, does the other dog start to fight; OR does everything just get kind of scary calm. One idea situation is that your girl tells of the other dog, the other dog backs off, and your dog walks away (or starts to play again). I don't think she plays too roughly for another dog her size or for a Pit. But, she may not yet understand how to tell a male, "I don't like that" without getting too threatened.

You might see how she plays with a female Lab or Pit that is a little older than she is. If they work out OK, then you might ask other owners of adult male boxer, pit, or Labs if their dog will back off when playing with a skittish female.

My 3yo male is in a class with a 6mos female, and an 8mos male. They play together after class, and the males get a little 'forward'. She tells off my male, snarking at him, and he backs off, resuming play. The other male hasn't learned to back off, so the female gets a little threatened, and we have to put the male in 'timeout', so he'll learn more appropriate play. That's not as easy to control in your situation, but you can try to rescue your girl, when you feel that she is snarking without being heeded.
 

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Sounds EXACTLY like what happened to my boy. He loved dog parks and all dogs till around the 1.5-2 year mark. First few scuffles, thought nothing of it. Then the fights started happening more and more. He went from a puppy who would non-stop play with all dogs and ignore me for an hour, to a dog would preferred sniffing the park and hanging near me rather than playing with the dogs.

For my dog, he simply matured into a dog who didn't need or want to play with other dogs anymore. Maybe it's the same with yours. For mine, continuing to 'force' him to socialize made him more defensive and aggressive. Discontinuing our visits to dog parks and pairing other dogs with treats through positive training are the two things that made it better. We haven't been back to a dog park in almost a decade and he couldn't be happier!
 
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